Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Accused stepson abused by cruel and brutal man, jury told

"Brutalised" … defendant David O'Neil-Shaw.

THE prosecution says it is a case of attempted murder, but to the defence it is about the consequences of child abuse.

The setting was the Roseville home of a David Jones general manager, John McRae, and his wife, Louise Lander.

There, Mr McRae was critically injured when he was stabbed by his stepson in January last year.

David John O'Neil-Shaw, 25, has admitted to stabbing Mr McRae, with whom he is said to have had an antagonistic, volatile relationship. At issue, a District Court jury was told yesterday, is whether he did so with intent to murder, or cause seriously injury

The crown prosecutor, Michael O'Brien, told the court O'Neil-Shaw had acted in a premeditated manner.

But the defence barrister Stuart Littlemore, QC, said his client had stood up to a "cruel and brutal man who had brutalised [him]", without an intention to kill.

Mr McRae was sitting on the lounge floor when O'Neil-Shaw had lunged at him in "a frenzied attack", Mr O'Brien said.

He had stabbed his stepfather multiple times, missing his carotid artery by 2 centimetres and injuring his thyroid gland and voice box. Mr McRae had also sustained defensive wounds on his arms and hands.

O'Neil-Shaw's mother had restrained him but he broke free and ran away. Within hours he had gone to the police and had agreed to be interviewed.

Mr McRae had previously used a baseball bat, a piece of wood with nails in it, and a belt buckle to hit O'Neil-Shaw, Mr Littlemore said.

He had punched him in the face, kicked him and thrown him down stairs. He had dragged other children by the hair and ears.

"There's a real criminal here, a child abuse brute, who drove my client … to drink and take drugs in order to cope with this," Mr Littlemore said.

O'Neil-Shaw's mother had never intervened to protect her son, but had said she was "not surprised it ended like this", he said.

"He reached a point where the abuse and the lies of his stepfather and his mother had become more than he could bear."

O'Neil-Shaw, who had drunk alcohol and taken drugs that evening, was not thinking of the consequences, Mr Littlemore said. He had "nothing in mind except to use his words to put an end to the bullshit … and on the spur of the moment … picked up the knife, jumped over the sofa to strike his abuser," he said.

The jury heard police were called to the home as recently as last week when Mr McRae was allegedly taking items from the house to a truck and Ms Lander disagreed.

In July or August last year he allegedly stepped on another child's foot after the child did not feed the dog.

Other allegations were raised last week with the Director of Public Prosecutions, but police had not been asked to investigate these allegations, the officer in charge, Lara Lambert, told the jury.

Mr O'Brien said O'Neil-Shaw had sent a nasty text message to his mother weeks before the incident because the family had left on an overseas holiday without him.

On the day of the stabbing, O'Neil-Shaw had missed work. He later parked his car 120 metres away after first pulling into the driveway. This "demonstrates a degree of premeditation", he said.

The case continues.

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